Whoa, all of the above!
When my husband retired last May, my life went from calm to the unpredictable over night. We went from coasting on neutral to a fast overdrive. First, the idea that we wanted to move closer to family, then the finding of our home in Desert Aire. then the prep and more prep, giving away stuff, carting what no one wanted to the Goodwill, and at last the big move. It took awhile before I caught my breath. When I did, I found myself floating in the doldrums. All writing (books and blog) had been put on hold till further notice.
Sailors in the past first used the term "doldrums" to describe areas in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where the wind would die and ships sometimes floated for days waiting for a puff of wind. Weather scholars call it the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm.
Yep, that was me. Calm at last, but short on motivation.
Then, a puff a wind. Maybe a knot or two, nothing extraordinary. A compass point. I started blogging again. I worked on my book one afternoon, too, thankful that part of my life hadn't died. I read several SCBWI Bulletins and got inspired.
One day I learned something new about character development. It stuck like glue, kind of like when I discovered the beauty of linking scenes together to construct a book, as script writers do in Hollywood.
I refer to the article, "Character Personas" by Jaimie M. Engle in the SCBWI Bulletin (September/October 2013). Her article caught my interest when I read how she had drawn her inspiration from Orson Scott Card. I had read his Ender series, and also had been wowed me with his style and character development. (He also writes on the subject of writing, if you have never read his fiction).
Engle pulled it all together in a nutshell. She began by quoting Card: "...when a storyteller has to create three characters, each different relationship requires that each character in it must be transformed.....shaping his or her present identity."
Okay, I know this, I thought at first. Nothing new. But here is where I woke up and listened, and paid attention. She writes, "Basically, this means that each of those characters would need four separate personas to carry them through the book without seeming flat to the reader."
Okay......so what does this mean?
She assigned an exercise. Go somewhere and observe the people around you, a coffee shop for instance. Watch how each person reacts differently to the people around them. They act one way with their best friend maybe, but differently with the barista, their not-so-good friend, their sister, brother, or parent, etc.
The fourth persona, the more I thought about it, is probably how a character reacts to the group as a whole. It could also be...and I like this one.... 'the person a character becomes' when they are alone, perhaps a side of their personality they are afraid to show. Ha! Love it. Using myself as example, I sometimes dance around the house like a giraffe. Now I guess that makes five personas! Hmm....
So if you find yourself in the doldrums, take advantage of the time. Sailors scrubbed the decks and repaired the sheets and rigging. Better yet, study your craft and write something.... Anything will do.
And remember, the winds will pick up
eventually. They always do!
Hope you are enjoying the Christmas season. I'm looking forward to two days in Spokane. Vince and I are blending eye appointments with a mini vacation. The Christmas decorations are beautiful this time of year. We may get a little snow, but no problem. Our trusty Subaru has four-wheel drive. Walking along the river and through Riverside Park should be lovely. It is one of the best times to visit Spokane.